Did Back to the Future succeed because it was set in a small town?

One journalist argues Back to the Future was aided by its small town setting:

Strip away the time-travel facade and Back to the Future is a fun, zany small-town comedy, with its nastiest villain a high school bully and its biggest triumph a kiss between his two victims. Director Robert Zemeckis seized upon the concept of Marty McFly’s DeLorean trip to 1955 while looking through his parents’ basement and stumbling upon relics from their graduating class. He pitched the idea to Steven Spielberg, who agreed to produce the project. The strength of the movie is that its most fantastical element is rendered as something any audience member could imagine: the bizarre and frightening experience of meeting your parents as their teenaged selves. Compared to the current era of summer movies, so focused on omnipotent superheroes doing battle on a planetary scale, that simplicity feels revolutionary…

But Back to the Future topped them all, literally traveling back in time to tap into America’s small-town ‘50s nostalgia.

An interesting argument as Americans do like the idea of small towns. And I suspect that data may suggest that most recent blockbuster films – whether action/superhero movies, disaster films, and dystopian films – are primarily set in big cities. Big cities may offer bigger spectacles, more potential for destruction and a broader scale for both danger and heroism, while small towns in such films suggest more intimate lives. Of course, the devastation and action portrayed in such films would have a profound impact on a suburban or rural landscape (disturbing major sources of agriculture could be quite problematic) but there are fewer people and buildings involved.

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